EARLY — The second season of the Brad Bowden era is in full swing at Early, where potential and discipline have been the focus of the Longhorns’ two-a-days thus far.

    “This team has potential,” Bowden said. “However, potential is worthless without a desire to fulfill it. We discussed the only thing any one of us can do to fulfill this team’s potential is to improve as individuals. Ultimately, I only have complete control over improving myself as a coach and in turn that will help improve our team. Each kid is the only one who can determine whether they improve or not.

    “We can all encourage one another. Coaches can teach techniques, players can push one another, but ultimately the only person who completely controls your improvement is you. Every improvement made by any one individual, coach or player, improves our team. Every single improvement made by our team, benefits each individual.”

    Bowden added that better self discipline will aid the Longhorns in their efforts to reach the newly established team goals.

    “I repeated the same verse that we have discussed many times, Proverbs 19:18, which instructs man to discipline his son while there is still time because we all know that the older you get, the harder it is to establish good habits,” Bowden said. “As adults, we also realize that there comes a time when it is simply too late to take advantage of some opportunities. My promise to them is that I won’t look the other way when they need to be disciplined. However, I will do so for the right reasons and will try my best to do so in the right manner. And so will the coaches on staff as well.”

    Speaking of the coaching staff, Scott Kello is a new addition as varsity receivers coach. Kello played high school football at Andrews and went on to play for Sul Ross.

    Early is looking to improve in several areas following a 3-7 campaign a year ago, and through the first few practices the Longhorns appear headed in the right direction.

    “The first couple of days of practice have been good,” Bowden said. “Obviously execution isn’t where it needs to be, but the practices have been sharp and effort has been really good with our varsity kids.”

    Bowden reported that 70 players are out for high school football this season, and some improvements have already been made through the first few workouts.

    “I’m pleased with the improved tempo at practice,” Bowden said. “Also, our passing game has already shown much improvement. Quarterbacks are getting better at putting the ball where it needs to be and our receivers are catching the ball much better than they were during two-a-days last year.”

    Moving forward, health is a concern for the Longhorns — though no significant injuries have been suffered — due to the number of players who are already filling multiple roles at the moment.

    “Our biggest concern is depth in certain positions,” Bowden said. “Of course, a lot of small schools have this same problem, but staying healthy is critical when you are talking about losing a player that starts both ways and on several special teams.”

    While the first few days of practice consist mostly of conditioning, review from the spring and the addition of schemes developed over the summer, the heavy lifting will begin Friday when the pads are donned in sweltering 100-plus degree heat for the first time.

    “I just want to see our kids focused on improving and doing the little things that determine if a practice is good or bad,” Bowden said of the goals before the Longhorns suit up in full pads. “With the heat and being sore and all the other possible distractions, it is easy to let a couple of practices slip away and have nothing to show for it. It is the mark of a championship team to be able to progress through the tough conditions and that is what we need to see from our kids.”

    After conducting their first full-pad practice on Friday, the next major date on the calendar for the Longhorns is their first scrimmage, which takes place at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at Hawley.